This months wallpaper was inspired by a recent experience. The story of which I am splitting into two posts because I feel it will be easier digested that way. Click on the image above and it will open the image in a new window for you to download. I hope you like it.
Now on to our story.
The other night Melissa and I were flipping channels and trying to find something worth watching. Late Sunday night is a no-man’s land for TV, save for a double-shot of Twilight Zone episodes (the Rod Serling kind, not the modernized, crappy reboot).
She flipped it over to a nature show and the setting was in the plains of Africa. A woman was recounting her study of a pack of elephants. In particular, she spoke about the birth of a new calf and the rough introduction to life it had gone through. In the end, it persevered, but the going was crushingly rough from the very start.
At first glance, the baby elephant seemed just like any other they had seen. It spent most of it’s time in those early hours lying in the shade of his mother, staying out of the hot sun. It wasn’t until he tried to stand up for a drink of milk that they began to notice a problem. Every time the newborn calf would try to stand up, it would fall down on its knees. Over and over again, he would try to stand or walk and just as he got his foot planted, his body would lurch forward and come crashing down, grinding his knees into the hard, sun-baked earth below him.
It wasn’t hard to figure out where this was going. Injury in the wild is a sure killer. Genetic defect from birth couldn’t stand a chance, right?
The narrator talked about the fears the team had for the calf’s survival. Their assumption was underdeveloped cartilage in the joints of the calf’s legs, a death sentence in that environment for two reasons. One, elephants live and travel in herds and if the calf can’t even walk it surely can’t keep up with the herd. Strength in numbers is important here. Two, the repeated slams to the ground of the calf’s knees would eventually break his tough skin and lead to infection, something not even the herd could help with. The outlook was bleak.
The mother did her best to do what she could. For hours, she would take her long trunk and wrap it under the baby’s stomach and lift him up, trying to get him to stand. No results. If she left the calf, he would certainly die, cooked by the sun. But the sun was beating on her, also, and eventually it was too much for her to bear. She left, reluctantly, to spray some mud on her back and cool off, and it appeared she realized this was a battle that would have no victor. She made her way towards the rest of the herd which was ready to move on. I thought that was the end. The little calf was left alone, unable to walk without falling down after a few feet, and the sun was settling in to cook him alive.
Then the calf started crying. Loud, shrieking, painful cries for help. The mother could only stand this so much, and she came thundering back to her baby. It seemed that if she had to die to stay and comfort him, she would. A tragedy was playing out before my eyes.
That’s when things took a turn. Again shaded by his mother, the calf kept trying to stand, and progress was starting to show. At first, he would get on his feet for a few seconds and then wobble back down to the ground. But with every effort he made he stood a little longer, then a little longer, then a little longer. He kept trying until, finally, he was standing on his own four feet. He reached out his young trunk and took the first, long, refreshing drink of his short life. The time he had spent on earth had been filled with nothing but adversity, literally falling down over and over again to arrive at this moment. Surely no milk, no lush plains grass or water from the purest stream would ever taste as sweet as the milk he had fought so hard to get.
With a few more stumbles he joined the herd, his family, and went on to live with them doing what elephants do, together.
So many things rushed through my mind while watching this scene play out. The obvious sentiment being persistence.
More on this next time.
Hope all is well.